If a new bill authorizing the use of weaponized drones passes, Connecticut police officers would have the ability to use the flying machines to kill. What could possibly go wrong?
The bill authorizing police use of “deadly” drones passed 34-7 in the state Legislature’s joint Judiciary Committee Wednesday. It is now pending action by the state House of Representatives, where it will be sent for debate and a vote, neither of which has been scheduled.
CNN reports that the law was originally written to ban the use of weaponized drones after a state resident, Austin Haughwout, attached a handgun and flamethrower to his drone on separate occasions.
From this, police got the bright idea to use the lethal machines for themselves. The bill to ban weaponized drones for citizens now includes an amendment that would allow police officers to attach their own weapons to drones, ostensibly to kill terrorists.
William Tong, co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, told CNN that the entire bill is intended to improve public safety. Tong explained that under the proposed law, the Police Officers Standards and Training Council would be responsible for creating guidelines on how officers should use drones.
The guidelines would be sent back to the state Legislature for final approval.
A member the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, a police union, says the drones would not be used to harm citizens but to protect them.
“No one is looking for law enforcement to arm drones for offensive purposes,” said Farmington Police Chief Paul Melanson. “The police didn’t want to preclude any possibility in the future of using the drones to protect citizens.”
But many are already up in arms (ahem) about the potential law. The head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, David McGuire, said that there is potential for abuse.
“We’ve seen some police in Connecticut use disproportionate force against people of minorities, and we think that drones would exacerbate this problem,” McGuire told CNN. “We’ve been working hard to try and re-establish trust in law enforcement, and this bill sends the wrong message.”